Treating Separation Anxiety (Abstract)
November 15, 2013
Separation anxiety or separation distress, as it is often called, can prompt affected dogs to:
1. Lose urinary and/or fecal continence, whereby they involuntarily urinate or defecate in the house or inside their crates or enclosures;
2. Chew furniture, woodwork, remote controls, or other inappropriate items in an effort to achieve a calming effect;
3. Repeatedly and loudly whine, bark, or howl to communicate distress or displeasure and/or to futilely call their pack leaders to return to the den;
4. Emphatically and irrationally attempt escape from exit doors or enclosures;
5. Inadvertently break teeth or fracture nails from their frenetic escape attempts;
6. Self-mutilate by scratching, chewing, or licking excessively, whereby they create open wounds that are subject to infection;
7. Race owners to doorways, block owners from departing, or even nip or bite owners when they depart; and/or
8. Suffer from the physiological effects of anxiety, which might include higher than normal pulse, blood pressure, and heart rates, high systemic cortisol levels, restlessness, stereotypic obsessive-compulsive pacing, and/or excessive salivation or drooling.
A comprehensive multi-level separation anxiety solution plan includes:
1. Re-ordering the owner’s departure routine;
2. Desensitizing to key provocative elements of the departure routine;
3. Modifying the sensory environment (visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, taste);
4. Evaluating the enclosure/containment environment;
5. Developing a diversionary departure strategy;
6. Proactive stimulation;
7. Implementing ICT (Impulse Control Training) and LCT (Leadership Communication Training) protocols;
8. Conducting random departure behavior modification drills;
9. Administering homeopathic anxiety reduction remedies or pharmaceutical anti-anxiety medication; and
10. Videotaping to ascertain which solution alternatives provide therapeutic outcomes.
Since separation anxiety is often a complex condition that is difficult to resolve, significantly lowers the quality of life of both the human and pet, causes notable financial damages, dramatically reduces the joy of pet ownership, has owners often feeling shackled to the house, and prompts owners to abandon dogs to animal control or a humane society where there is a high probability of euthanasia, we highly recommend the services of a skilled CPT trainer/behaviorist when diagnosing the condition and implementing a customized solution plan. To schedule a CPT behavior modification session, please contact the CPT office by phone at 404-236-2150 or contact us by email via the Contact link at the top right of this web page.
© Copyright Mark Spivak and Comprehensive Pet Therapy, Inc., May 2010, Revised March 2014. All rights reserved.